Hawaii is a pretty self-sustaining state in many ways. This is a place where people pride themselves on eating locally-caught fish and locally-grown produce, all done in an environmentally-sustainable way. Is it any wonder then that all the big islands have become popular locales for craft beers? An excellent example of this is the Big Island Brewhaus.
The Big Island Brewhaus is centrally located in Waimea on the Big Island. You’ll find the large stand-alone building at the corner of Kammamalu St. and Mamalahoa Highway, just kitty-corner to the bustling Waimea Civic Center Park. While they have grown significantly in recent years, with their bottled and canned beers available throughout the state, the best place to grab one of their beers is right at this home location.
While brewing craft beers was always the idea behind this business, it didn’t happen overnight. Owners Tom and Jayne Kerne moved to Hawaii following a successful brewing career in the American Northwest wanting to open up their own craft brewery. They began by purchasing a popular Mexican restaurant called Tako Taco in 2008. They operated that restaurant largely as it was, slowly building up their craft brewery next door. Two years later, they finally unveiled that brewery and became the Big Island Brewhaus known and loved today.
Of course, while Big Island Brewhaus now serves up some really outstanding craft beers, they have not forgone the restaurant side. This is still the popular Mexican restaurant (to be technical, the menu leans more TexMex styled) it has always been, serving up classics like the Paniolo Burrito and Bacon & Bleu Quesadilla alongside margaritas, whiskey and rum cocktails, and, of course, plenty of sudsy brews that were made just next door.
When the brewery portion of the business first opened, its beers were available only via keg barrels or by getting it at the bar via tap (some select bars on the island of Hawaii also offered the locally-produced beer). They have grown quite a bit since then. Many of their beers have gone on to win some pretty prestigious awards and accolades, including gold medals at the annual US Open Beer Championships and Great American Beer Festival. Thanks to this huge success, they have grown their operations significantly and now operate a successful bottling operation that enables them to sell beer through three islands. All of it is locally brewed, bottled, and distributed.
But while Big Island Brewhaus has earned quite the national recognition and can be found on taps across the islands, you won’t be able to find their beers on the mainland. So the Waimea restaurant and brewhouse is a must-stop for those looking to try out some of the best beer in a friendly environment.
A few examples of the premier beers they make and serve include:
This Baltic porter features a rum raisin-esque flavor that mixes with licorice, chocolate, and coffee to create a robust yet smooth flavor ideal for late afternoon contemplations or lazy mid-mornings.
This one’s a seasonal spring lager that was the big winner at the 2015 US Open Beer Championships. This maibock features the aroma of spring flowers merging with carrot cake (yes really), and when you finish it off, you are sure to notice the ending notes of a honey-baked crust.
-Despite being walled off with bamboo, the cozy outdoor patio area (called their beer garden) is dog-friendly, making this a good option for those traveling with pets.
-The name can feel like a bit of a misnomer due to just how popular the food is here — you will find the Big Island Brewhaus on most top restaurant lists for the area. But if you are looking for something more akin to a taproom, then consider going instead to a Waimea bar that serves their beers.